During childhood, the brain is particularly vulnerable to influences from difficult early-life experiences like stress or seizures. These experiences can impact proper neural circuit refinement and cognitive functions, including social behaviour. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of early-life experiences remain elusive-but as Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neuroscience, Dr. Hongyu Sun is trying to uncover them.
He and his research team are studying the previously overlooked hippocampal CA2-one of four subfields in the hippocampus, a complex brain structure that plays a major role in learning and memory. The CA2 area of the hippocampus has recently emerged as a crucial regulator of social memory and behaviour. Sun and his team are investigating the role of CA2 neurons in early-life experience and social behavioural function. Their work will provide insights into how these experiences influence brain development and social behaviours later in life.